Society

Kennedy Cousin Michael Skakel To Get New Trial After 11 Years In Prison For 1975 Murder Of Teen Girl, May Go Free On Bail

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The Kennedy cousin who’s been sitting in prison for 11 years, convicted of bludgeoning a 15-year-old girl to death with a golf club when he was also 15, may now get out on bail after a judge ordered a new trial in the high-profile murder case.

Michael Skakel, cousin of Robert F Kennedy Jr., was convicted in 2002 of the long-unsolved 1975 killing of Martha Moxley on October 30, 1975 in the ritzy town  of Greenwich, Conn.

The case against Skakel was pushed by the late writer Dominick Dunne, who covered numerous crimes of the rich and famous in his books and in Vanity Fair magazine articles.

Mark Fuhrman, the controversial detective who investigated the O.J. Simpson murder case, wrote a bestselling book about the case, Murder in Greenwich.

The publicity led Greenwich police to bring a case against Skakel, who publicly maintained his innocence, though on the night Moxley was killed Skakel allegedly told a friend, “I'm going to get away with murder. I'm a Kennedy."

Skakel is the son of Ethel Kennedy’s brother, Rushton Skakel. Ethel Kennedy was the widow of slain U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 just as he appeared poised to win the Democratic nomination for president.

On Wednesday, Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Bishop ruled that Skakel’s lawyer in his sensational 2002 trial, Mickey Sherman, had failed to properly defend him. The judge said, among other points, that Sherman failed to point suspicion toward Skakel’s own brother, Thomas, who admitted having a sexual liason with Moxley on the night she was murdered.

With the judge’s ruling, Skakel’s current defense team said they will petition to get him released on bail, possibly as soon as today.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental activist and son of the slain senator, maintains that his cousin is innocent.

“There was no credible evidence against him that couldn’t have been challenged by much stronger evidence," said Kennedy. "And if he gets another trial, he’s got good lawyers now and there’s no way in the world that he will be convicted.”

SOURCES: New York Magazine, Associated Press, NBC News, Vanity Fair